OSTERVILLE, Mass. (Sept. 22, 2014) — Age apparently knows no boundaries at the 2014 Massachusetts Senior Amateur Championship.
Following the first of two rounds of play, 70-year-old Dave Houghton (Captains GC) leads the way after firing a score of 2-under par 70 at Oyster Harbors Club.
He currently holds a two-stroke lead over William Boucher (Framingham CC) and Jim Ruschioni (Wachusett CC), who posted scores of even par 72. Paul Lacamera (Plymouth CC) and Bruce Carter (International) are T4 after carding scores of 2-over par 74.
Houghton stands as a two-time super-senior division winner of this event but never an overall champion. He claimed the divisional title – which is reserved for those who are 65 years and older – in 2011 and 2012, and he entered this year’s competition as the fifth oldest competitor in the field. He was hoping for a divisional title, but now after an impressive first-round performance the overall title is now within reach.
“I was thinking I could probably shoot around par because that is what I always feel that I am capable of,” said Houghton. “But some times things happen and today they happened on the good side.”
Par would have been an especially good score on this day under what were very windy conditions on this island course. With wind gusts up to 25 miles per hour, Houghton used sound course management, reliable ball striking and a little bit of good luck to tame the Oyster Harbors Club layout.
After beginning his round on the back nine with two straight pars, Houghton struck his wedge approach from 118 yards out. Unable to see the ball flight, he was hoping that it would find the green. As it turned out, it was even better than that.
“I was just trying to choke it down and then it hit perfectly on the slope and trickled down,” said Houghton. “I can’t see that far anymore, so my partner said that it might have gone in or else it went over the green. We drove up there and it was in the hole. That has not happened in awhile, so it was nice.”
Houghton rode that momentum by making birdie on two of his next three holes. As the morning wore on, the wind continued to pick up. Although Houghton was unable to keep up his early, blistering pace, he did manage to make birdie on the 463-yard, par 4 2nd hole to help offset three bogies for a 2-under par round.
“I was 4 under at one point and missed some short putts so it could have been a really exceptional round,” said Houghton. “ But two under for me is exceptional. That is just great for me. I have been striking it well but just not putting well. These greens are really difficult, so you just have to pick a line and trust it and work on your speed.”
A key turning point down the stretch came on the 180-yard, par 3 5th hole.
“The wind was whipping on the tee and I hit over the green,” said Houghton. “I didn’t think it was even possible to do that. But I got it up and down and that was probably the greatest shot I hit all day except for the one I dunked for an eagle on number 12.”
It was a round that Houghton will remember for a while and one that he hopes will propel him to champion status come Tuesday afternoon.
“I just wanted to be competitive,” said Houghton. “That is how I have always looked at the game. I just go out there and compete with the guys and that is why I play this game.”
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